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A human discussing how to remove human dependencies by incorporating the right technologies to promote business continuity

Reduce human dependencies and put your people where it matters most

Solely relying on either humans or technology for your data needs can get in the way of optimizing your business continuity. See how the right partnership between humans and machines can bridge the gap over human-error and technological limitations.

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The human-machine relationship

"To err is human."

Just as innovation and exploration lie at the core of what it means to be human, so does human error. And when it comes to business, research by Gartner reveals surveyed companies report an estimated annual loss of $15 million due to poor quality data. 

Small missteps — a tiny typo in a spreadsheet, failure to complete a particular step, or a critical detail overlooked — can have significant consequences. So, as much as it is human nature to be innovative and creative, it's also just as human to make errors and have lapses in attention or judgment from time to time. 

With that said, we can't simply throw technology at our problems to automate everything and call it a day. Sometimes, your business processes need the nuances of human judgment. A business works best when humans and machines partner up and create better continuity with their combined efforts, leveraging each partner's strengths.

People, technology, and business continuity 

Business continuity is the ability of a company to operate and recover from a significant disruption. If a business can get back to "business as usual" without significant reputational, material, or financial damage, that signals that they have healthy business continuity. 

Business continuity has been a top concern of organizations in recent years as environmental disasters, a global pandemic, and other uncertainties have grown. For example, when shipping came to a halt in the wake of COVID-19, businesses saw a global disruption with ripples that are still felt today. 

So, how do the elements of human error and technical error impact business continuity? Can you minimize both and ensure optimal business continuity? 

The human element 

To form an optimized partnership between humans and machines, you first need to understand where and when human error occurs most often. In terms of business continuity, you're most likely to see human errors related to these areas: 

  1. Random errors. Some errors occur randomly and are hard to track, so you can't always account for them through simple rules or mandates. An error can be as simple as a person pressing a wrong button or forgetting to do a critical task. 
  2. Timing. Timing lapses can contribute to disruptions in business continuity. For example, someone might do an additional unassigned or unexpected task, or complete a task late. 
  3. Testing. A failure to test means that your staff hasn't run enough drills or hasn't identified weaknesses and opportunities to strengthen business continuity plans in the face of a crisis. 
  4. Training. Inadequate training (and refreshing) for your staff means that you open up your business to risk and security threats. 
  5. New priorities or circumstances. A shift in focus can throw a team off its game. For example, when the pandemic affected supply chains, employees had less time to focus on revenue-driving core competencies. Companies were thrust into new situations with fewer hands on deck. The pandemic turned the supply chain upside down, and many companies found themselves having to think on their feet.
The technology element

While tools often improve business processes, throwing more tech at a problem doesn't always translate into better business continuity. It's essential to be aware of these common issues with technology that affect business continuity:

  1. Backups. Setting up and testing backups can be laborious and tedious, but if you don't adequately back up your servers and sites, they can go down in the event of a disaster.
  2. No silver bullets. It's a mistake to think that implementing one tool or technology is a cure-all for your business continuity. Teams can fail to implement adequate data protection and recovery plans because they assume that specific technologies are fail-proof. 
  3. Clouds are your friend. Hard networks can be unreliable. Failing to use an offsite cloud-based backup or store multiple backups can disrupt business continuity. 
  4. Security. Data security can be breached no matter how sophisticated your technology is.
  5. Finding the right tool takes time. Implementing the right tools can be time-consuming, expensive, and complicated. Implementing tools that execute the requisite scripts and process data quickly might not happen straightaway, so you could run into technical limitations of the tools themselves. 

The best of both worlds: Automation 

Given that both a purely human or a purely technical business continuity strategy has flaws, it's time to think about combining them both. Think about how humans and machines could combine their strengths and partner up to optimize business continuity. Keep these three principles in mind: 

1. Never saying, "We're done”

People and technical tools can partner to identify where technology should be upgraded, what regulations have changed, which staff has turned over, and which staff members need training.

Automations and data processing tools create clarity and transparency around these questions. Build a culture of continuous feedback so that as the environment and technologies evolve, so does your business continuity plan. 

2. Planning for automation

Your people, who have firsthand experience working on the business, should be the ones evaluating which equipment should be upgraded, calling out gaps in data processing capabilities, and identifying which manual efforts need to be automated.

3. Implementing automation where possible

Your people should implement key automations after in-depth analyses. Create a plan to communicate with stakeholders, delegate responsibilities, define automation KPIs, and to plan budgets and timelines. 

The bottom line 

Tools and technology can give you a competitive edge, but only if you implement the appropriate strategy. The right business continuity plan starts and ends with your people. Trust your team to regularly evaluate how technology can influence and optimize your business continuity. The tools you choose are then applied to reinforce those carefully considered decisions.

Take your business to the next level with automation.